When I think Memorial Day, I picture hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken, barbequed ribs, kebabsâ€”not a lot of options for the vegetarians in your group! And while I love me some potato salad and corn on the cob, those two sides just aren’t going to cut it for dinner when you’re surrounded by full hearty plates. So here are two meatless party recipes fit for Memorial Day that both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike will enjoyâ€”you won’t even notice the lack of meat in them!
Cheddar-Battered Onion Rings
2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 big pinch xanthan gum (optional, see headnote)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3â„4 cup seltzer, plus additional as needed
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
2 large white onions, peeled and cut into thick rings
All-purpose or rice flour, for dredging
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
1. Preheat the broiler and position one of the oven racks 3 to 4 inches from the broiler element. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Spread the cheddar cheese in a thin layer on the sheet. Watching rather closely, broil until the cheese is starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Pat off excess oil. Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, crush the cheese into a fine powder.
2. Whisk together 3 ounces (a scant 1â„2 cup) of the cheese powder, the egg yolk, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, kosher salt, xanthan gum (if using), 1 cup flour, and seltzer. The batter should be rather thin, the consistency of crÃªpe batter, not thick pancake batter. Add more seltzer as needed.
3. In a large saucepan, heat 3 inches of oil to 360°F. Working in small batches, dredge each onion ring in flour, shake off the excess, dip in the batter, allow the excess to drip off, and add to the oil. (I find this easiest to do with chopsticks.) Deep-fry until golden brown; remove to paper towels to drain. Pat lightly to remove excess oil. Season with sea salt.
Indian Fry Bread Tacos
FOR THE FRY BREAD
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk, plus additional as needed
Vegetable oil, for frying
FOR THE SQUASH AND CORN TOPPING
4 poblano chile peppers
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Half an onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound yellow summer squash or zucchini (about 3 medium), cut into bite-size cubes
3â„4 teaspoon kosher salt
Kernels from 2 ears corn, or 2 cups frozen corn, defrosted
2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
3 cups tender cooked pinto beans (homemade or canned)
1 cup grated cheddar
1â„2 cup minced white onion
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1 1â„2 cups guacamole
Thick salsa of your choice (smoky chipotle versions are good)
1. For the fry bread: Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the milk and mix with a fork until you have a shaggy mass, adding a little more milk if needed. You want a dough that is fairly sticky, just barely firm enough to roll out. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, with floured hands, knead for just a few seconds to make a big ball. Rub the dough lightly with oil, cover, and set aside until you are ready to fry.
2. For the squash and corn topping: Roast the poblano peppers on a grill, under the broiler, or carefully with tongs over an open flame until blackened and blistered all over. Set aside in a covered bowl until cool. Wearing rubber gloves, remove the skin, stem, and seeds, then cut the pepper into 1â„4-inch strips. (Mexican cooks call these rajas.)
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sautÃ© for 1 minute, then add the summer squash and salt. SautÃ©, tossing occasionally, until browned, about 4 minutes; add the corn and sautÃ© for 2 minutes; add the poblano strips and oregano and heat through. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
4. When ready to fry the breads (just before serving; they are best fresh), pour 3â„4 inch of vegetable oil into a large, heavy skillet. Heat over medium-high heat to 365°F degrees.
5. Divide the dough into quarters, shape into balls, and roll each one out into a circle about 9 inches in diameter. Fry one at a time until medium golden brown, flipping to cook both sides, about 2 minutes total. Be careful when flippingâ€”if you just flop it over with a spatula it can cause a dangerous splash. I use a spatula and a spoon to control them, but you could also use tongs. Transfer cooked breads to paper towels to drain.
6. To serve: Put a fry bread on each plate, and top with generous portions of the topping, the beans, cheese, onion, tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, and salsa. Serve immediately.